Friday, 9 December 2016

BOOK REVIEW | Winter Magic by Abi Elphinstone + More


Winter Magic is an anthology of short stories all revolving around the winter season, written by a number of children's authors. The collection was curated by Abi Elphinstone, who also has a story of her own within the book, alongside ten other authors. The author that drew me to the book initially was Emma Carroll, who is my favourite middle grade author, and her story within definitely didn't disappoint. Although going in knowing only the one author, I've come away wanting to read the entire works of all the authors inside!

Captivating from the very introduction, Winter Magic is the kind of book that's great to dip in and out of, enveloping you in warm winter fuzzies with every page you turn. Naturally, with a collection of short stories like this, certain stories are going to be favoured over others and below I'm sharing with you my favourite five stories from within the book.

A NIGHT AT THE FROST FAIR BY EMMA CARROLL
After leaving her Grandma in a care home, and travelling back through a busy London on a winter's night with her family, Maya soon finds herself in a very different kind of busy London... A London from many, many years ago. Having travelled through time with a gift given to her by her Grandma, Maya's world is turned upside down but ultimately changed for the better. A Night at the Frost Fair was a lovely opening to the eleven stories, and such an atmospheric read. Emma Carroll does winter so well.

SOMEONE LIKE THE SNOW QUEEN BY BERLIE DOHERTY
Inspired by the renowned story of the Snow Queen, Orla finds herself on a journey of discovery after allowing her younger brother to fend for himself and ultimately be lead away by the 'Snow Queen'. This is one of those stories that has a strong core and leaves you with a  message concluding in a happy ending.

THE ROOM WITH THE MOUNTAIN VIEW BY LAUREN ST JOHN
The Room with the Mountain View is a mystery read that's packed full of adventure and a little reminiscent of the film Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock (as is noted within the story itself).

SNOW BY MICHELLE MAGORIAN
The only poem with this anthology, Snow is definitely one of the pages that wraps you up in those warm winter fuzzies that I mentioned before.

THE SNOW DRAGON BY ABI ELPHINSTONE
On the eve of Christmas, Phoebe is the only child left in a not so nice orphanage, with a rather horrible lady in charge who does nothing but put Phoebe down and belittle her - seriously, this woman is vile! Locked in a dog kennel outside of the orphanage building itself, Phoebe is greeted by a snow dragon who is about to take his annual Christmas Eve flight, and Phoebe is welcomed along for the ride. This story is such a heart warming one and a wonderful ending to the collection as a whole.

There are a variety of themes, other than being centred around winter, running through the stories in Winter Magic and I loved that each story had its own personal message or moral portrayed to the reader. There really is something for everyone in this book - whether you're looking to time travel, play a leading role in the production of The Nutcracker, meet a Snow Queen, fly over land and sea on a Snow Dragon, or be transported back to the nostalgia of childhood and be full of wonder and curiosity as we all are as youngsters.

Winter Magic is one of those charming winter reads that I know I'll return to in the future... And one I also look forward to sharing with my son in a good few years.

LINKS

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

MINI BOOK REVIEW | A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg


BLURB
Deep in the southernmost part of Alabama, along the banks of a lazy winding river, lies the sleepy little community known as Lost River, a place that time itself seems to have forgotten. After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas in the warm and welcoming town of Lost River. There he meets the postman who delivers mail by boat, the store owner who nurses a broken heart, the ladies of the Mystic Order of the Royal Polka Dots Secret Society, who do clandestine good works. And he meets a little redbird named Jack, who is at the center of this tale of a magical Christmas when something so amazing happened that those who witnessed it have never forgotten it. Once you experience the wonder, you too will never forget A Redbird Christmas.

MY THOUGHTS
If you're looking for a cosy, heart warming, slightly cliché read this Christmas, then A Redbird Christmas is the book for you.

As the book begins we meet Oswald T. Campbell, a lonely man who is coasting along living in Chicago, when he is informed that he doesn't have much time left and that another frigid winter in the windy city could very well be his last. After his diagnosis, and getting his very few affairs in order, Oswald finds himself in Lost River, a small town in the sunny south - doctors orders.

A Redbird Christmas is the kind of book that doesn't have a plot as such, more a character driven book where you're enveloped in a town and watching everything unfold. In this case, we see how Oswald's life changes drastically over the course of a year, as well as the other residents you come to know and love within Lost River.

Short and sweet, A Redbird Christmas is the kind of book that is full of wonder and charm, and that I see myself returning to in Christmases to come. I'm so glad to have started my Christmas reading with this title, and it has definitely put me in a festive mood.

LINKS

Friday, 2 December 2016

BOOK TALK | Six Non-Fiction / Coffee Table Books I'd Gift


With Christmas approaching, naturally I've got to thinking about what I'll be gifting my nearest and dearest this year - although Christmas isn't about the gift giving for me, it is about the festive family time, I like to gift thoughtful presents to my loved ones as a way of showing that I'm thinking of them and appreciate them.

I don't have that many people to gift books to at this time of year - I just don't have many bookish family and friends - but I have been having a nosy at my own bookshelves and been thinking about which of those books would make good gifts.

Today, I'm sharing six of the non-fiction / coffee table books I own that would make great presents for others.

THE BOOKSHOP BOOK BY JEN CAMPBELL
If you have a fellow bookworm in your life, or even fancy gifting yourself something this Christmas, then The Bookshop Book is the book for you! Jen Campbell takes us on the most magical of world tours, stopping off and hearing the stories of a variety of booksellers and their uniquely different bookshops. As the blurb on the book states: 'The Bookshop Book is a love letter to bookshops all around the world.'

DAILY RITUALS BY MASON CURREY
I'm a very routine driven person, and I also happen to be quite a nosy person (I'll admit it!) and that combination lead me to love Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. The book features the routines and daily rituals of 150+ artists, ranging from playwrights, novelists, scientists, philosophers, and many more creatives, opening your mind to how they produced some of their best work and the working conditions in which they thrived.

VERY BRITISH PROBLEMS BY ROB TEMPLE
Most suitable for Brits, given the title, Very British Problems is an amusing and relatable read that would make a good gift for the person in your life who loves a good chuckle. As I said in my intro, I don't have many bookish people in my life, but this is the one title on my list that I will actually be gifting this Christmas.

LOST IN TRANSLATION BY ELLA FRANCES SANDERS
Lost in Translation is an illustrated book featuring a collection of words from around the world that aren't directly translatable into English, but that have unique and beautiful meanings. Much like the meanings, Lost in Translation is a unique and beautiful book. With the combination of new to you words and stunning illustrations, this charming little book would make the perfect gift. At some point I would like to sit down and do a more thorough post on this book, perhaps even sharing some of my favourite words from the unusual dictionary.

THE ART OF... BY VARIOUS
I've linked all of the books featured in this gift guide on Goodreads, however 'The Art of...' encompasses more than one book - I have linked up to The Art of Up, one of my favourite books of this kind. The Art of books offer a behind the scenes look at the art of a number of animated films and TV shows. I own a couple of these books now, with my eye on a few more, and they would make a great gift for someone you know who has a favourite animated film.

CITY ATLAS BY GEORGIA CHERRY & MARTIN HAAKE
Last, but by no means least, is City Atlas: Travel the World with 30 City Maps - a great book buy for a kid you know who loves geography and travel, or it would also make a nice family gift aiding them in finding their next adventure. I have a full review of this book, which you can find here, with the next paragraph being a snippet from said review: 'This non fiction book aimed at children, but just as well received on the shelves of an adult, showcases thirty of the best loved cities from around the world by pouring the personality of a city on a double spread page using beautiful illustrations, a few facts about the given city as well as a variety of activities and attractions within the city.'

WILL YOU BE GIFTING ANY BOOKS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON?

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